see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
+ Chapter 31
When I'd fled from the conversation that I'd been unfortunate enough to
overhear, I ducked into the file room, figuring that I could easily kill
five or ten minutes pretending to be searching for something. That would
give Duo and the others more than enough time to have left for lunch.
Then I could go back to our office and try to get sufficiently immersed
in work to keep the hurt from showing when Duo returned. As it turned
out, I didn't have to spend much time in the file room at all. Une had
spotted me as she walked past and requested that I accompany her to her
Which was how I'd ended up standing in Une's office fighting desperately
to keep my composure as she casually mentioned that she'd decided that
perhaps Duo and I would prefer to screen the surveillance from our suite
ourselves. Just in case there was anything there that was actually relevant
to the case. Though the sections that she and Noin had already checked
didn't seem to be. "They seemed rather... personal..." she remarked.
I swallowed hard and tried to get my voice to work. I could not believe
that I had completely forgotten about the probable existence of those
"Unless you would prefer that one of us finish checking the footage?"
Une asked, raising one eyebrow.
I scowled and snatched the disks from her hands. "No," I answered abruptly.
"I will take care of it." Pivoting, I started towards the door. My cheeks
burned at the implication that Une and Noin had seen any of the things
that had gone on in the suite. The kissing and cuddling and dancing...
The sharp snap of Une's voice halted me in my tracks and I belatedly realized
that I had not been dismissed. "Yes Commander?" I waited with my back
towards her, hoping that she wouldn't order me to turn around. I was still
fighting to get my expression under control and I knew that my face was
flushed with embarrassment.
"I've already spoken to Maxwell. The two of you are going to have to decide
whether you're going to be able to put all of - *this* - in perspective
and work together again or not. The shooting as well as the - other things.
He said that the shooting wasn't an issue but he did not have an answer
for me regarding the rest of it. I'll need that answer from both of you
by the time that he's ready to go back on regular duty again." Her voice
softened a bit as she added, "So think about it, Heero. Talk to him. Figure
out whether you're going to be able to continue as partners."
I forced myself to loosen my grip on the disks in my hand; breaking them
wouldn't solve anything. "Yes ma'am," I answered flatly. "Will that be
Une sighed heavily - and, I suspected, disappointedly - and told me, "Yes.
Silently, I left. As I walked away, I ran my thumb over the surface of
the top disk in the thin stack I held. By rights, I should wait until
Duo was there too rather than viewing these alone. But I wasn't sure whether
I could handle that. At least, not without having watched the footage
first. If I knew exactly what was on it, then watched his face while he
was viewing it... Maybe I could confirm how he felt about me?
'Or I could make him angry with me if he comes back and catches me watching
it alone...' And that was the *last* thing I needed; our relationship
was already under severe stress. I didn't need to do something that would
make things even worse. If there was more time left before his return,
I might risk it but he could be back in as little as half an hour.
Regretfully, I tucked the disks safely into one of my desk drawers and
locked it. I didn't want to risk anyone *else* picking those up and finding
out what was on them. Too many people knew already as far as I was concerned.
And I wasn't exactly looking forward to mentioning them to Duo either
now that I'd thought about it a little more. If he was even half as embarrassed
as I was by the very existence of these...
I winced and started sorting through some of the files in my inbox. Rather
than dwelling on Duo's reaction to the disks, I would try to get some
work done before he got back. Then... well, then I'd have to bring the
subject up with him. And hope that somehow his reaction to the disks and
their contents would give me a better indication of how he felt about
And maybe the opportunity that I needed to help me tell him how I felt
I looked at my watch and frowned. Duo was late. *Very* late. I hesitated,
then stood. He was supposed to have gone to lunch with Wufei and Sally.
I'd just go see whether they were back yet or not. They'd probably just
gotten stuck in traffic or something. But I couldn't help worrying; Duo's
shoulder had seemed to be bothering him quite a bit this morning. I had
to wonder whether perhaps he'd started back to work too soon.
Reaching Sally and Wufei's office, I knocked sharply on the frame of the
open door to catch Sally's attention. "Sally? Didn't Duo come back from
lunch yet? There's some things we need to go over..."
"Oh, sorry Heero. I didn't know you were waiting for him," Sally answered.
"No, we didn't actually end up *having* lunch. I drove Duo home instead.
Silly idiot didn't wear his sling this morning. Wufei stayed with him
to make sure that he ate, took his painkillers, and rested. Honestly,
I don't know what it is with all you Gundam pilots and not taking care
of yourselves..." She shook her head in exasperation. "Funny how Wufei
will get on Duo's case for not taking care of himself properly when I
have to keep getting on *his* case for the same reason!"
The sick knot of guilt that had never completely left me since I made
that damn mistake and pulled the trigger got a little bit bigger. I'd
never even thought of the fact that Duo probably should have been wearing
a sling this morning. And I hadn't realized that his shoulder was bad
enough that he needed to go home and rest. I'd been too caught up in worrying
about how to tell him that I loved him. So much for my intentions to *show*
him how much I cared. Not to mention my offer to help him; I'd been too
self-absorbed to even notice that I should have *been* helping him.
At least his best friend apparently wasn't falling down on the job the
way that I was.
"Oh. I'll just go ahead and take care of things here myself then..." I
offered lamely in response to Sally's expectant gaze. I hesitated, then
asked, "Is Wufei staying after work? I'd offered to help Duo with anything
his shoulder interfered with but..." But if Wufei was going to be there,
my assistance probably wouldn't be needed. Especially if Sally was going
to be joining them.
Sally gave me a startled look that turned to a pleased smile. "If you're
going by there, then he won't need to. Good." Her eyes sparkled and she
added, "Which means that I can pick Wufei up instead of joining them.
It would be nice to have the evening to ourselves. But only if you're
going to keep Duo company and help out; I promised to change the bedding
for him and a few other things."
I managed to give her a small smirk as I assured her, "I'll be there.
I'm sure that you and Wufei have - other things you'd rather be doing..."
She choked back a startled laugh and replied, "Oh yes... I'll leave Duo's
laundry to you quite happily; I have more - interesting - plans for the
"I'm sure you do," I told her drily before heading back to my own office.
Well, that changed things. If Duo wasn't coming back this afternoon...
I closed the office door and took the surveillance disks out of my drawer.
I'd go ahead and watch them myself , then decide what to do with them.
And maybe... just maybe... that would turn out to be taking them to Duo's
I slid the first disk into the computer. 'Let's see what this whole mess
looked like from the outside...'
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